October 22, 2012
Last week I outlined ways to earn hundreds of thousands of points and miles through gift card churning (see “The art of gift card churning @ #chicagoseminars“). Today, I have a number of specific updates for people who have taken gift card churning to heart…
Kohl’s triple dip not working
In my recent post “How to maximize your Freedom 5X purchases” I suggested that it might be possible to earn 25 points per dollar at Kohl’s by going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Kohl’s to buy Kohl’s gift cards with your Freedom card, and then go through the mall again to use the gift cards. However, a reader reported on Saturday that this trick didn’t work for them. They received points for using a gift card at Kohl’s, but not for buying a gift card. One reader experience doesn’t prove that the triple dip won’t work for everyone, but its probably not worth the risk.
PlasticJungle / TopCashBack drops to 2.5%
PlasticJungle is a gift card buyer / reseller. They’re a great resource if you have unused gift cards you’d like to sell (at less than face value). And, they’re a great resource if you want to buy gift cards at a discount (which is a great way to save money almost anywhere). Until recently, a cash back portal (TopCashBack) offered 4% cash back at PlasticJungle if you started from their site. Cash back is awarded whether you buy gift cards from Plastic Jungle, or sell them. Recently, TopCashBack reduced the payout to 2.5% cash back. Accordingly, I’ve updated the post “Gift cards: buy low, sell high, get cash back” which can always be found on my Resources tab:
Walmart gift cards cheaper than usual
Lately, $500 Walmart gift cards have been on sale on EBay for about 5% off of face value (e.g. $475). That’s pretty good, especially considering that purchases of merchant gift cards on EBay earn EBay bucks, which means you get an additional 1.9% rebate (2% of $475 = $9.5, which equals 1.9% of $500). The catch is that the sellers don’t ship the cards for a month or more.
One reason that discount Walmart gift cards are interesting is that Walmart sells Visa gift cards online and will let you pay with gift cards. The best value, currently, is to buy $200 Visa or MasterCard gift cards for $206.88 each. This amounts to a 3.44% fee. However, if you pay with a Walmart gift card that you bought at a 6.9% discount, you are still well ahead!
OfficeMax tightens up
In the posts “10% off everything and 7% off everything else” and “How to buy points for free” I described a few great ways to leverage the American Express OPEN Savings program now that those savings apply only to online orders at OfficeMax. The trick involves buying OfficeMax gift cards online (for 10% cash back) and then upgrading them in-store (e.g. use them to buy better gift cards). I haven’t had any trouble upgrading at my local OfficeMax, but a number of readers have reported that their OfficeMax stores don’t allow it. In fact, fellow blogger Delta Points tells me that his OfficeMax used to allow it, but has recently cracked down. If you’re thinking of trying this technique, consider starting very small to check whether your local OfficeMax store is upgrade-friendly.